And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 7, Diamondbacks 1: Domonic Brown’s debut was a splendid one: a
single, an RBI double and a sac fly. Carlos Ruiz had two RBI doubles. No
pressure on the offense on this night, however, as Roy Halladay took a
shutout into the ninth and ended up with the complete game.

Braves
3, Nationals 1
: Jason Heyward Stole Home. I want to crow about this and
add it to his legend and everything, but this wasn’t exactly the
Jackie-Robinson-sliding-under-Yogi’s-tag mental image we all get when
someone says “so-and-so stole home.” Basically Brian McCann was
dead-to-rights on either a steal or a botched hit and run between first
and second and got himself caught in a rundown long enough to let
Heyward come in from third. Yes, that’s technically a steal of home. We
should either call that or the more dramatic straight steal of home
something else though. Because one is pure beauty and the other is just
kind of a mess.

Giants 10, Marlins 9: The Giants blew a 7-1 lead
but Andres Torres — who had earlier splashed one into McCovey Cove, hit
a walkoff RBI single in the tenth. It was really kind of a ground rule
double in that it bounced over the wall, but since there was a runner on
third it goes in the books as a plain old single because that’s all
that was necessary to score the winning run. I’m going to call it a
ground rule single, though, because that just sounds more fun.

Cardinals 8, Mets 7: The Cardinals jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first and led 7-2 as late as the sixth inning, when Jaime Garcia hit a wall and Mitchell Boggs threw kerosene on the fire. Six relievers and seven innings later St. Louis prevails on an Albert Pujols RBI single in the 13th. The last time Garcia and Johan Santana faced each other it went 20 innings, however, so this was a crisp one by comparison. 

Reds 10, Brewers 2: Brandon Phillips hit a monster grand slam that bounced off Bernie Brewer’s big, twisty yellow slide. This never would have happened if they had just left his cool, little, beer-stein slide out there the way God and Nature intended.

Astros 8, Cubs 1: Two homers for Carlos Lee. If he has another day like that one his OBP may inch over .300 and his SLG may top .400. For his part, Lee credits new Astros’ hitting coach Jeff Bagwell. The Astros would probably be better off if they activated Bagwell instead.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 0: Brad Mills — who had only two undistinguished starts in his career before last night — gets the callup for the Jays and the Orioles make him look like he’s Greg Maddux (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER). A decent night for O’s starter Jeremy Guthrie too (7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER). I’m surprised there hasn’t been more trade chatter about him.

Red Sox 7, Angels 3: Joel Piniero was scratched before the game with an oblique strain and Scot “I haven’t started a game in seven years” Shields got the call. He went an inning and two-thirds, gave up a couple of bombs, threw too many pitches and was followed by a parade of relievers who kept the Angels in it by virtue of the Sox leaving so many runners on base. Marco Scutaro ended the competitive portion of the game with an eighth inning grand slam.

Twins 6, Royals 4: So much for that “Brian Bannister is great in day games” baloney that people (me) like to spew. Banny was roughed up for five runs on 11 hits in six innings. Of course given how the Royals’ pitchers had been doing against Minnesota this series, that qualifies as a gutsy, effective outing. A three-run bomb for Delmon Young, whose wonderful season continues. At the outset I had assumed it was a Faustian bargain kind of thing, but the more I see, the more I think that just maybe he’s made The Leap.

Rays 7, Tigers 4: Eddie Bonine: a reliever is pressed into service as a spot starter and the results were quite Scot Shieldsian (3.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER). Matt Joyce and Carlos Pena continue to do damage against the Tigers. Which reminds me: yesterday I joked that the Rays should run out a lineup of old Tigers. In that lineup, I included Ray Oyler, saying that he was about to turn 72 next week.  Which he would have if he hadn’t died 29 years ago. I regret the error, but I stand by using Oyler in a gimmicky lineup because you can say what you want about him, but his plate patience is way better than it was back in his playing and living days.

Padres 6, Dodegers 1: Five Padres pitchers combine to four-hit the Dodgers. But don’t worry: Scott Podsednik will be in uniform tonight, so the offensive equation will totally change.

White Sox 6, Mariners 5: A rough start for Mark Buehrle, but the Sox overcome it with the longball. Bobby Jenks strikes out the side in the ninth for the save, so we’re back to normal there.

Pirates 6, Rockies 2: Colorado’s post-break nightmare continues. Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf was hit in the head with a comebacker in the first but made it to the hospital and back before the game ended. The game lasted 3:17, so you figure with travel time and however long the game had gone on when he was hit, he was at the hospital for less than three hours. Query: have any of you ever gotten out of a hospital visit that quickly for an injury/observation kind of thing? My wife fell and thought she broke something once and we were there for, like, seven hours. It’s good to be a ballplayer.

Athletics 3, Rangers 1: Trevor Cahill two-hits the first place Rangers over eight innings. Kurt Suzuki hit a solo homer, had an RBI single and was driven in to score a third run by Jack Cust.

Yankees 8, Indians 0: The Yankees pounce on Fausto Carmona for seven runs in the first three innings and never look back. Six and a third shutout innings for A.J. Burnett. Joba Chamberlain came in in the seventh, walked Andy Marte and then balked him to second before settling down and retiring the last two batters of the inning. I’m sure this will analyzed to the nth degree in the tabloids today.

Adams homers in 16th to lift Cardinals over Dodgers 4-3

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ST. LOUIS — Matt Adams homered in the 16th inning to lead the Cardinals to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night for St. Louis’ season-best fifth straight victory.

It was the second consecutive game that the Cardinals won in their final at-bat. They beat the Padres on Thursday after scoring a run in the ninth inning.

Adams homer came with one out off Bud Norris (5-9), who gave up six runs as a starter in an 8-1 loss at Washington on Wednesday.

Seth Maness (1-2) picked up the win with a scoreless inning of relief for St. Louis, which was playing its longest game of the season.

Jedd Gyorko hit a two-out homer off closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth to tie the game 3-3.

Justin Turner and Howie Kendrick homered for the Dodgers. Los Angeles has lost four of six. The red-hot Turner has seven homers and 17 RBI this month. He hit two homers in a 6-3 win over Washington on Thursday.

Turner blasted his career-high 18th homer of the season off Seung Hwan Oh in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie.

Corey Seager had four hits and drove in the first run of the game. He had hit in seven successive at-bats before flying out in the ninth.

Kendrick’s solo shot in the sixth tied the game 2-2. He has hit in 14 successive games trying Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the longest current streak in the majors.

Los Angeles starter Brandon McCarthy allowed one hit and two runs over 6 1-3 innings, the longest of his four starts this season. He left with leg cramps. McCarthy struck out four and walked three.

St. Louis starter Michael Wacha allowed two runs on 10 hits in six innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Dodgers reliever Adam Liberatore recorded his 28th successive scoreless outing by retiring two of four batters in the seventh. He has not allowed a run in 41 of 42 appearances this season.

Minor League Players’ Wage Suit against Major League Baseball suffers a huge setback

The judge's gavel is seen in court room 422 of the New York Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street February 3, 2012. REUTERS/Chip East
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A judge handed minor leaguers looking to hold Major League Baseball liable for underpaying and exploiting them a huge setback today, ruling that the case cannot go forward as a class action. Minor leaguers who want to sue over their pay and treatment still can, but they’ll have to do it individually. The ruling saps the minor leaguers of their leverage, as Major League Baseball would likely be able to fend off individual cases which, by themselves, might only amount to several thousand dollars per claim.

The background: in 2014, former Miami Marlins player Aaron Senne sued Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, and three major league clubs claiming that minor leaguers are underpaid and exploited in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. He was later joined by former Royals minor leaguer Michael Liberto and Giants farmhand Oliver Odle. Eventually others joined and the suit had been expanded to 22 teams as defendants.

The upshot of the case is that, while the minor league season lasts only part of the year, players are required to do all sorts of things outside of merely playing games for which they are not compensated. Training, meetings, appearances and the like. When all of that time is added up, the players claim, their already low salaries are effectively far below minimum wage in violation of the law. Major League Baseball has countered this by claiming that minor leaguers are basically part time seasonal workers — like landscapers and pool boys — who are not subject to federal labor laws.

Last year the judge gave the case conditional certification, allowing the players to try to establish that it should go forward as a class action. This would streamline the case from the plaintiffs’ perspective and give them the power of collective action by asserting hundreds or more similar cases into one proceeding. The judge’s ruling today, however, was that the cases really weren’t factually similar and thus collective action was not appropriate because figuring out how many hours each player worked and what was required of him varied too greatly among the players.

From his order:

“The difficulties associated with determining what activities constitute ‘work’ in the context of winter training are compounded by the fact that there appear to be no official records documenting these activities. Because it may be impossible to determine from official records the types of conditioning activities in which the players engaged, membership in the state classes based on winter training would depend largely upon the players’ ability to remember, with a reasonable amount of detail, what they did during the off-season (often for multiple years and for many, several years in the past) to stay fit.”

The judge said that, in light of this, each case would be unique and would require “individualized inquiries” to find damages and liability. That phrase –“individualized inquiries” — constitutes magic words which sink would-be class actions. If a company overcharges all of its customers by $8 due to an error repeated a million times, it’s easy to look at one set of facts and judge them together. If you had to look at a million different wrongs, that’s no class action. And so it is not a class action for the players.

As many courts who have dealt with these sorts of cases have noted, for many plaintiffs, a class action is the only practical method of adjudicating Fair Labor Standards Act cases because individual plaintiffs are frequently unable to bear the costs of separate trials. They are, by definition, (allegedly) exploited workers. They’re not going to be able to pay legal costs and fight off a multi-billion dollar business in order to collect the few thousand dollars they were underpaid. At the same time, however, the defendants have rights too and, if the facts of each players’ treatment truly differ (e.g. the Yankees make their minor leaguers do more than the Brewers do) it’s not fair to bind one defendant’s defense to the acts of another.

So, where does this leave the players? Not dead. Not yet, at least. Their claims have not been dismissed on the merits. They have only been denied the right to act collectively. The individual plaintiffs can now file separate lawsuits against their former employers and Major League Baseball under the same theories. It would be harder to land a big blow in such a scenario, but if enough do, it could end up being death by a thousand cuts for the clubs and the league. Their legal fees might go up and, eventually, if they lose enough of these cases, more might be filed. There are a lot of former minor leaguers, after all, and once there’s some blood in the water, more of them — and their lawyers — may enter the frenzy. Decertification is certainly a win for the league right now, but it’s not necessarily a permanent win.

There are likewise some other quasi-collective forms this case could take such as multi-district litigation in which the cases, while individual, are coordinated in a loose fashion. That could lead to some efficiencies for suing players even if it’s not as robust as a class action.

We’ve written quite a bit about minor league pay and treatment in this space by now, so you probably know where we stand on it. We believe that minor leaguers are exploited and underpaid and we believe that Major League Baseball has been happy to exploit and underpay them for some time. Ultimately we believe that this state of affairs cannot and will not persist and that eventually, somehow, baseball will either see fit to pay its workers fairly or, more likely, will be forced to do so by a court or by collective bargaining of some fashion.

Today, however, was a big setback for the minor leaguers. Today’s ruling will give Major League Baseball and its clubs more time and more comfort in which to underpay them. There’s no doubt about it.